MANHATTAN: UN Women is observing the 11th October as International Day of Girl Child worldwide.
On this day, themed With Her: A Skilled Girl Force, UN Women stands with girls everywhere as they inspire, innovate and take charge of their own future.
On the International Day of the Girl Child, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, writes a letter to all the girls of the world to celebrate their strength and the potential.
The 1.1 billion girls in today’s world are challenging the status quo. They’re redefining girlhood, and they’re doing so against the odds. Across the world, girls face adversities that hinder their education; training and entry into the workforce. They have less access to information, communication technology and resources, such as the internet where the global gender gap is growing.
A quarter of young people, most of them girls, are neither employed nor getting an education or training. This year alone, 12 million girls under 18 will be married, and 21 million girls aged 15 to 19 years will become pregnant in developing regions. And yet, they persist, they succeed. They are innovating technology to solve global challenges, they are standing up for the environment, they are raising their voices against violence and they are preparing to run for office.
Relevant: Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has said that girls’ education and vocational training across the board and without any discrimination is the sole guarantee of Pakistan’s prosperity and progress. In his message on the occasion of International Day of the Girl Child, he said that a future based on progress and prosperity could remain a dream without empowering and taking them on board in all matters. PPP’s provincial government is taking every step for bringing our daughters ahead in every section of life and field. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that Sindh’s incumbent government of PPP has ensured free and standard education for girls and is supporting girl students with cash stipends, nowhere in any other province. The PPP Chairman said that his party was the sole party that fully represents the women and was the biggest advocate of women’s rights and was their guardian. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari saluted all those women who have stepped forward in all sections of life and field while defeating many impediments at every level and social taboos. “Our women who have courageously overcome the social taboos and governmental restrictions will one day represent the true colors of Fatima Jinnah, Shaheed Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Asma Jehangir, and Maryam Mukhtar. Let us respect them and value them, said the PPP Chairman.”
World population set to grow another 2.2b by 2050: UN
UNITED NATIONS: The world’s population is set to grow by 2.2 billion between now and 2050, the UN said today.
Monica Ferro, Director of the UN Population Fund (UNFPA) in Geneva, said the trend globally is towards smaller families, indicating that more people are making choices about exactly how many children they want, or can afford to raise.
Despite the gradual transition to lower fertility rates, which began in Europe in the late 19th century, no country can claim that all their citizens enjoy reproductive rights at all times, Ms. Ferro told journalists at a press briefing. “No matter if it is a high fertility-rate country or low fertility-rate country, in both of them, you will find individuals and couples who say they don’t have the number of children they want. They either have too many or too few.”
According to UNFPA’s State of World Population 2018, there are 43 countries where women have more than four or more children, and 38 of these are in Africa.
In all but five East African countries, fewer than half of all women surveyed, said they would prefer not to have any more children.
If UNFPA’s predictions are correct, Africa’s share of the world population will grow from 17 percent in 2017, to 26 percent in 2050.
Staying with the African continent, fertility rates are “significantly lower” in cities than in rural areas, the report indicates. In Ethiopia, for example, women have around 2.1 children in cities, whereas they have around five in the rest of the country.
Underlining the link between conflict and insecurity with bigger families, the UNFPA data also shows that Afghanistan, Iraq, Palestine, Timor-Leste, and Yemen have higher fertility rates than the overall average of 2.5 children per woman.
The UNFPA official urged all countries to implement a range of policies and programmes that would increase the “reproductive choices” of their populations.
Prioritizing quality maternal health care for all is key, according to the UN report, which highlights the need for access to modern contraceptives, better sex education, and an emphasis on changing male stereotyping of women.”In developing countries, 671 million women have chosen to use modern contraception,” Ms. Ferro said. “But at the same time, we know that 250 million in the developing world want to control their fertility, and lack access to modern contraceptive methods.”
Couples who want to have more children should also be helped to do so, Ms. Ferro said, explaining that economic barriers which prevent this from happening could be better addressed, through measures such as affordable childcare.
France and Norway had seen their birth rates pick up after taking such steps in recent decades, the UNFPA official said.
Nonetheless, many developing countries lack the resources or political security they require to improve reproductive health and rights for all.
They are struggling hard to meet the demand for education, the demand for jobs, the demand for even having health care services that are accessible to everyone, Ms. Ferro said. “What the report tries to show is that in these countries, the unmet need for family planning is typically very high.”
In the nearly 25 years since the landmark International Conference on Population and Development was endorsed by 179 Governments, people’s reproductive rights have “substantially improved around the world,” Ms. Ferro said.
She noted that States agreed then that it was important for couples and individuals to decide the number, spacing, and timing of their children, and that such decisions were made free from discrimination, coercion or violence.
A similar commitment is reflected in the Sustainable Development Goals agenda, agreed by the international community in 2015.
Nonetheless, hundreds of thousands of women continue to suffer from the failure to implement this programme of action, the UNFPA official insisted.
“Every year, 300,000 women die during pregnancy or childbirth because they have no choices in maternal health care; every day, thousands of girls are forced into a child and early marriage and are victims of female genital mutilation. They have no choices.”
Glitzy ‘Science Oscars’ to make stars of researchers
WASHINGTON: Nine scientists were recognized Wednesday with a “Breakthrough Prize,” a $3 million Silicon Valley-funded award meant to confer Oscars-style glamour and prestige on the basic sciences.
The prizes in physics, life sciences and mathematics went to six men and three women, including four researchers who shared two prizes and five who get the full reward to themselves.
Vincent Lafforgue, of France’s National Center of Scientific Research (CNRS), was awarded the prize in mathematics for groundbreaking work in multiple areas.
Five US-based researchers who won prizes in the life sciences included Frank Bennett and Adrian Krainer, from companies in Carlsbad, California and Long Island.
They were recognized for their discovery of a DNA-linked process that led to a treatment for a rare infantile disorder, spinal amyotrophy.
They were joined by Chinese-born scientists Xiaowei Zhuang (Harvard), who developed a new tool for super-resolution molecular imagery, and Zhijian “James” Chen (University of Texas), for his discovery of a DNA-sensing enzyme that could be associated with auto-immune disorders.
The US-based contingent was completed by Angelika Amon, an Austrian researcher at MIT, for determining the consequences of aneuploidy, when a cell does not have the normal number of chromosomes.
The physics prizes went to Charles Kane and Eugene Mele (University of Pennsylvania) and Jocelyn Bell Burnell (Oxford).
Six $100,000 awards were given to 12 researchers for promising early career work.
The “Breakthrough Prize” is only six years old but it is far more lavish than the coveted Nobel, which comes with prize money of around $1 million and is often shared by two or three laureates.
The prizes will be presented at a star-studded red carpet ceremony in November, hosted at a NASA research center in Silicon Valley by actor Pierce Brosnan.
The mathematics prize propels 44-year-old Lafforgue into a celebrity world which has not typically been part of his day-to-day work, he acknowledged.
“I’m game,” he told AFP before the official announcement. “It’s American culture.”
He recalled that Yuri Milner, a physician, and internet pioneer who became a prominent Silicon Valley investor, created the prize in 2012 to make scientists stars, hoping to repopularize the basic sciences and generate public support.
“Breakthrough Prize” patrons include Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, Google co-founder Sergey Brin, and Ma Huateng, founder and CEO of Chinese internet giant Tencent.
Unlike the Nobel, which often goes to retirees, the “Breakthrough Prize” seeks to recognize recent discoveries and not necessarily concrete applications of their work.
“One does the math for its beauty, not for its applications,” said Lafforgue, while stressing that there are applications of his work in the field of cryptography.
Tattoos discovered on Egypt’s 3,000-year-old mummy
CAIRO: A French archeological mission discovered several tattoos on a 3,000-year-old mummy in Upper Egypt’s monument-rich city of Luxor, the Egyptian Ministry of Antiquities said in a statement today.
The studies conducted by the mission of the Cairo-based French Institute of Eastern Archeology on a female mummy discovered in 2014 showed several figurative tattoos on her neck, back, shoulders and arms, said Mostafa Waziri, head of Egypt’s Supreme Council of Antiquities.
According to the research, the ancient woman lived between 1300 BC and 1070 BC and died between 25 and 34 years old.
Despite being unidentified, the woman must have been important considering the variety of tattoo figures on her body, including lotus flowers, cows and baboons, Waziri noted.
In March, experts at the British Museum found the world’s oldest figurative tattoos on two ancient Egyptian mummies displayed among the collection of the museum.
One of the two mummies, dating back to between 3351 BC and 3017 BC, is the oldest tattooed woman ever discovered.